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Aug 15, 2021

Scripture Reading: John 11:1-16

John has deliberately selected some of the miracles of Jesus to include in his gospel as 'signs' pointing to the identity of our Lord as the Son of God. Perhaps the most spectacular 'sign' is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. J. C. Ryle says that this chapter in John is "one of the most remarkable in the New Testament. For grandeur and simplicity, for pathos and solemnity, nothing was ever written like it" (Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, 2:166).

The circumstances leading to the actual act of raising Lazarus are as instructive as they are surprising. At the center of this account is the glory of God. "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it" (Jn 11:4).

John sets up the scene by establishing the unusually close relationship between Jesus and the siblings Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (Jn 11:5).

It is the next verse that is both surprising and deeply enlightening … "So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was" (Jn 11:6). The word 'so' connects verse 6 with verse 5. Because of Jesus' love for Lazarus and his sisters, He stayed where He was, thus allowing Lazarus to die and be buried.

The reason why this was a greater display of love than if Jesus had healed Lazarus is given to us in John 11:14 …"Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe." The display of Jesus' love for these siblings is seen in Christ's deepening their faith … which was accomplished more forcefully through suffering than it would have been through the delight of healing Lazarus.